How Are DECK-DRIVE™ DWP Screws Load-Rated?

Experiential learning — has it happened to you? Certainly it has, because experiential learning is learning derived from experience. It happens in everyday life, in engineering and in product development, too. For example, experience has taught us that after a product is launched, our customers will find applications for the product that were never expected or listed in the product brief. Also, experience has shown us that larger fasteners tend to be placed in applications that have greater structural and safety demands.

When the larger Deck-Drive™ DWP screws were manufactured, we decided that they should be marketed as “load-rated” screws because they were big enough to support physically large parts and would be expected to provide structural load resistance.

So what is a “load-rated” screw? To Simpson Strong-Tie, a load-rated screw is a threaded fastener that has controlled dimensions and physical properties, as well as validated connection properties.  Load-rated fasteners are also subject to the same quality inspection that would occur if they were undergoing an evaluation report.

The products in the focus of this blog are Deck-Drive DWP Wood stainless-steel tapping screws. They are made from stainless steel (Types 305 and 316) and are particularly interesting because they have a box thread design feature. What is a box thread and what are its benefits? A box thread is a thread that is square rather than round. It is formed by rolling (not a trivial tooling challenge) like a standard thread. The box thread is preferred for some applications in part because of the low torque required to install the screw; that is, the installation demand is low relative to standard threads of the same pitch (number of threads per inch). You can easily see the box thread by looking from the point of the screw toward the head. The square corners of the box thread rotate at a defined angle, giving the threaded length a twisted appearance. The box thread is also used on the Timber-Hex SS screws. See Figure 1 for an illustration.

Figure 1. Phone photo showing box thread on a DWP screw (No.12, 4 inches long). These screws have a flat head, and this size has a T-27, six-lobe drive recess.

When we load rate a fastener, ICC-ES AC233 (Acceptance Criteria for Alternate Dowel-type Threaded Fasteners, 2015) is the guiding document. Essentially, we do everything that would be done if the product was going into an evaluation report. The testing uses representative products and is witnessed by a third party, and every test report is reviewed and stamped by a professional engineer. The DWP screws that are fully load rated are No. 12 and No. 14 that are three to six inches long. This means that we have evaluated by test the shear and tensile strengths, bending yield strength, head pull-through resistance, withdrawal resistance and certain logical lateral shear configurations of these models. The connection properties are developed in at least three species combinations of wood representing a range of specific gravities. Each cell in the connection load matrix is a reference allowable value based on a mean of at least 15 tests that is subject to a precision of five percent at a 75-percent confidence level. Table 1 is snipped from the prepublication spreadsheets.

While we were working on the No. 12 and No. 14 screws, we also realized that No. 10 DWP screws often require withdrawal loads because they are used in decks and docks to fasten the decking to the structural frame. You can see in Table 1 that the withdrawal loads were included for No. 10 DWP screws and the related properties, because uplift resistance is often engineered for those applications.

What is the test method for each property in the load table? See Table 2 for the test method used for each property and the related data for that property. The reference allowable shear loads shown in Table 1 represent more than 1,200 individual tests, and each test includes wood specific gravity, moisture content and continuous load-displacement data from start of test to past ultimate load.

Table 1. Reference allowable properties for the DWP load-rated screws.

Table 2. Test methods used to evaluate the properties of load-rated screws per ICC-ES AC233.

Load rating screws is a big job, and it creates an elevated continuous quality-monitoring obligation. However, our experience has taught us that the engineering community needs information and reference properties that can be relied on when specifying, and thus working with load-rated screws makes it possible to put your stamp on a design with confidence.

We look forward to hearing from you about load-rated fasteners, because we learn from you every time you contact us.

Why You Should Specify Stainless-Steel Screw Anchors When Designing for Corrosive Environments

Figure 1. Spalled concrete below a concrete bridge.

I was driving under a concrete bridge one nice clear day in Chicago, and I happened to look up to see rusted rebar exposed below a concrete bridge. My beautiful wife, who is not a structural engineer, turned to me and asked, “What happened to that bridge?” I explained that there are many reasons why spalling occurs below a bridge. One common reason is the expansion of steel when it rusts or corrodes.

This week’s blog will briefly explain the corrosion process and why concrete spalls when the embedded metals corrode. Corrosion may be defined as the degradation of a material as a reaction to its environment.1. As described in our previous SE Blog post, “Corrosion: The Issues, Code Requirements, Research and Solutions” dated January 3, 2013, corrosion of metallic surfaces is an electrochemical process. Because of moisture evaporation, concrete is a porous material. Water and oxygen molecules enter the pores of the concrete, and an electrochemical process occurs with the carbon-steel bar. The iron in the steel is oxidized, which then produces rust. A buildup of rust products at the surface of the carbon-steel bar exerts an expansive force on the concrete. Based on the amount of oxidation, the rust products of steel can occupy more than six times the volume of the original steel.2 Over time, further rust occurs and surface cracks will form. Eventually spalling will occur, exposing the rusted carbon steel bar. (See figure 1.)

Figure 2. Stages of corrosion.

Just as with reinforcing bars below a concrete bridge, cracking and spalling can occur when a carbon-steel anchor is used adjacent to a concrete edge. Simpson Strong-Tie® has many anchorage products that can be used in these conditions to prevent cracking. One specific product is the new stainless-steel Titen HD® screw anchor. This new innovative screw anchor is made up of Type 316 stainless steel. As seen in Figure 3, Type 316 stainless steel has a high level of resistance. This makes the stainless-steel Titen HD an excellent choice when it comes to an anchorage solution in corrosive environments. These environments include wastewater treatment plants, exterior handrails, exterior ledger attachments, stadium seating, central utility plants, and kitchens just to name a few.

Figure 3. Simpson Strong-Tie level of corrosion by material/coating.

Unlike expansion anchors, screw anchors require the leading threads to cut into predrilled holes. This can be easily achieved with hardened carbon-steel cutting threads. Stainless steel is not hard enough to cut into concrete. The new innovative stainless-steel Titen HD solves the problem by brazing heat-treated carbon-steel cutting threads to the surface of the stainless-steel tips of the screw anchor. (See figure 4.) These carbon-steel threads are hard enough to cut grooves into the surface of a predrilled hole, allowing the anchor to be installed with ease. The volume of the carbon-steel cutting threads is less than 1% of the stainless steel, reducing the buildup of rust that eventually spalls the concrete edge. Other stainless-steel screw anchor manufacturers in the market have a bi-metal product that attaches a full carbon-steel tip. This bi-metal screw anchors contain up to 18% carbon steel. Such a large amount of carbon steel can expand up to six times its volume when it corrodes and can spall the concrete when used adjacent to an edge.

Figure 4. Carbon-steel cutting threads.

Figure 5. Graphic representation of spalling in concrete adjacent to an edge.

When designing an anchorage solution for your next job in a corrosive environment, the stainless-steel Titen HD will provide the best resistance for corrosion, and also give the ability to drive these anchors into the concrete with ease. More information about the product can be obtained by visiting

  1. Corrosion Technology Laboratory (
  2. Galvanized Rebar (

Stainless-Steel Titen HD®

The Next Era of Stainless-Steel Screw Anchor For Concrete and Masonry.

Specifying Self-Drilling Screws: “Standard” vs. “Engineered”

In my past life as a Design Engineer, when specifying a screw the size of the screw was the key feature that I considered. In my mind, a #10 screw performed better than #8, and a #12 was better than #10 and all #10 screws were the same. But that is not always true. Just as a shoe size or a dress size may not be exactly the same for all brands, a screw of the same size from different manufacturers may perform differently. The head type, head design, thread design (fine, coarse, thread angle, pitch), thread type (like box threads, buttress threads, unified, square) and drill point type (like #1, #3, #5 drill point) can influence the performance of a screw. When innovatively designed, a #10 engineered screw can meet or exceed the performance of a #12 or #14 screw in loads and drill time and could result in cost savings. You can use fewer screws, which would mean labor savings. For example, our newly designed XU34B1016 screw, which is a #10 screw with 16 threads per inch, a hex washer head and a #1 drill point, that performs better than a #14 standard screw in lighter gauge steels.


What Are Self-Drilling Tapping Screws?

Self-drilling tapping screws, or self-drilling screws, as the name implies, drill their own hole, eliminating the need for predrilling, and form or cut internal mating threads.  They are  relatively fast to  instal compared to bolts or welds. Unlike pins, they do not require a thick support material to be used. They can be used in very thin steel, such as 26 gauge, up to steel that is ½” thick. Self-drilling screws may be a perfect choice for most applications involving cold-formed steel (CFS). They are most commonly used for CFS connections: either attaching CFS to CFS, wood to CFS or CFS to wood. They are a logical choice when the other side of the connection or material is not accessible.

Most self-drilling screws are made of steel wire that meets the specification of ASTM A510 minimum grade 1018 material as specified in ASTM C1513 standard. Self-drilling screws are heat treated  to case harden then so that they meet the hardness, ductility, torsional strength and drill drive requirements as specified in ASTM C1513 standard.  ASTM C1513 refers to SAE J78 for the dimensional and performance requirements of self-drilling screws.

Screw Selection

While selecting the screw, you need to figure out the head type that works for the application. For example, a flat-head screw would be a good choice for wood-to-steel applications, but for steel-to-steel applications, a hex head or a pan head may be a better choice. Similarly, the length of the screw should be sufficient to fasten  the members of the connection together. According to Section D1.3 of AISI S200, the screw should be at least equal in length to the total thickness of the material including gaps with a minimum of three exposed threads. The length of the drill point is another important feature to consider. It should be long enough to drill through the entire thickness of the material before engaging the threads. This is because thread forming occurs with fewer revolutions than  the drilling process.   if the drill point length is not long enough, the screw threads can engage the connection material and the screw can bind and break.


Some drill points also have “wings” to  drill a hole in the material that is larger in diameter than the threaded shank. Screws with this kind of point are mainly used for wood-to-steel applications. The blog post by Jeff Ellis titled “Wings or No Wings” provides some useful insights for screws with wings when used in shearwall applications.

The Test Standards and Evaluation Criteria for Standard and Engineered Screws

Per Section D1 of AISI S200, screws used for steel-to-steel connections or sheathing-to-steel connections shall be in compliance with ASTM C1513 or an approved design or design standard.

For ASTM C1513–compliant screws (per AISI S100), Section E4 provides equations to calculate shear, pullout and pullover of screws used in steel-to-steel connections. It also provides safety and resistance factors for calculating allowable strength or design strength. These equations are based on the results of tests done worldwide and the many different types of screws used in the tests. As a result, these equations seem to have a great degree of conservatism.

As discussed earlier, many factors, such as the head type and washer diameter, thread profile, drill point type and length, installation torque and the installation method affect or influence the performance of a screw. In order to qualify the screws as ASTM C1513–compliant or better performing, manufacturers need to have their screws evaluated per Acceptance criteria for Tapping Screw Fasteners AC118 developed by International Code Council – Evaluation Service. The criteria have different requirements depending on whether the intention is to qualify as standard screws or proprietary screws.  For proprietary screws, connection shear, pullout and pullover tests are performed in accordance with the AISI S905 test method. The shear strength and tensile strength of the screw itself are evaluated per test standard AISI S904. The safety and resistance factors are calculated in accordance with Section F of AISI S100. The pictures below are some test set-ups per AISI S905 and AISI S904 test procedures.

screws3 screws4 screws5

Another important consideration is corrosion resistance. AC118 has a requirement for testing the fasteners for corrosion resistance in accordance with ASTM B117 for a minimum of 12 hours. The screws tested shall not show any white rust after 3 hours or any red rust after 12 hours of the test. At the same time, it is important to keep in mind  that  hardened screws are prone to hydrogen embrittlement and are not recommended for exterior or wet condition applications. Also, these screws are  not recommended for use with dissimilar metals.  If self-drilling screws are to be used in exterior environments, the screws need to be selectively heat treated to keep the core and surface hardness in a range that  reduces the susceptibility to hydrogen embrittlement. Other fastener options for exterior environments are stainless-steel screws.

This table shows are some of our screw offerings for CFS applications. Our stainless-screw options can be found in  Fastening Systems Catalog (C-F-14) or at


What are the screws that you most commonly specify? Share your screw preferences and your ideas on self-drilling screws in your comments below.

Pier Decking Fasteners

This week’s post is a case study featuring a recent restoration job on the central coast of California and how Simpson Strong-Tie® hot-dipped galvanized screws proved to be a better option than traditional spikes.

A pier originally constructed in the 1800s was closed a few years ago as general deterioration caused the structure to become unsafe. As preparation for rebuilding the pier began, one of the major concerns was the attachment of the deck boards to the framing.

Traditionally, the deck boards have been attached with hot-dip galvanized 60d (0.283″ x 6″) spikes. However, spikes have a low withdrawal resistance, are typically predrilled and have a multi-step installation process. In addition, spikes, over time, can begin to back out so that the heads protrude above the top of the deck boards. This creates an unsafe condition for pedestrians and also results in ongoing maintenance work. Here you can see one of the old spikes.

Corroded spike for deck board fastening.

Corroded spike for deck board fastening.

Simpson Strong-Tie provided two options for replacing these spikes: the Strong-Drive® Timber-Hex HDG screw, SDWH27800G, and its stainless-steel counterpart, the Strong-Drive Timber-Hex SS screw, SDWH27800SS. The SDWH27800G screw measures 0.276″ x 8″ and has a hot-dip galvanized coating, conforming to ASTM A153 Class-C. The SDWH27800SS screw measures 0.276″ x 8″ and is made from Type 316 stainless steel. Both of these screws have integral washer, hex-drive heads and are self-drilling. They are not intended to be self-countersinking though, and as a result, installation with the heads below the deck surface requires a shallow dapped hole.

A comparison of the load values was provided to Shoreline Engineering, Inc. engineers Bruce S. Elster, P.E., and Jonathan T. Boynton, P.E., for their review and approval. In addition, Simpson Strong-Tie Fastening Systems/Dealer Sales Representative Darwin Waite expertly conducted on-site demonstrations for numerous decision makers including the contractor and city officials. These demonstrations allowed the contractor and owners to compare the labor costs and finished appearance of the different fastening methods.

Simpson Strong-Tie Fastening Systems Dealer Sales Representative Darwin Waite takes selfie on the completed dock.

Simpson Strong-Tie Fastening Systems Dealer Sales Representative Darwin Waite takes selfie on the completed dock.

Below is a comparison of the allowable load values* of the potential fasteners. We can see how each of the Simpson Strong-Tie screw options exceeds the spike load values in all load conditions.

Table 1. Comparative allowable properties for hot-dip galvanized spikes (60d), hot-dip galvanized screws (SDWH27600G, SDWH27800G) and stainless steel screws (SDWH27600SS and SDWH27800SS).

Table 1. Comparative allowable properties for hot-dip galvanized spikes (60d), hot-dip galvanized screws (SDWH27600G, SDWH27800G) and stainless steel screws (SDWH27600SS and SDWH27800SS).

*Not to be used for design purposes as footnotes have been left out of this blog post. Table values include wet service factor adjustments.

In the end, the SDWH27800SS stainless-steel screw was specified for the project.

Some might consider a 316 stainless steel screw to be cost prohibitive, but when you factor in the lower cost of installation, the lower maintenance requirements and the actual cost of the fastener, this screw turned out to be the lowest cost  alternate. In addition, it provided better withdrawal and lateral load values than the spikes.

 This picture shows the deck fastening in progress. The screws are set and ready for driving with screw driving tools.

This picture shows the deck fastening in progress. The screws are set and ready for driving with screw-driving tools.

The Strong-Drive Timber-Hex SS screws made it possible to complete the deck restoration on time and on budget. Perhaps just as importantly, the pier looks beautiful and should last for many years to come.

Let us know if the comments below if you have any questions about specifying these fasteners for securing decks, docks, pilings and other heavy-duty, coastal applications.


As always, call our Engineering Department if you have any questions.

Have you used the SDWH27800SS screw for a project? Tell us about in the comments below.